Sunday, November 29, 2020

Grateful for books

I've always been thankful for books, but this year I am especially so, since travel this year has been confined to the imagination. At times I've needed books that reflect what it's like to live through an epidemic (Body Counts, Sean Strub) or cope with grief and loss (When Death Takes Something from You, Give it Back, Naja Marie Aidt) or live in a bitterly divided world (WWI Europe, in the case of Alone Against Gravity, Thomas de Padova; WWII Europe, in the case of Lilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly). 

At other times, I've needed books that transport me to completely different experiences: good old Emma (Jane Austen) or shiny new fantasy (Star Daughter, Shveta Thakrar) or 1990s radio (Radio On, Sarah Vowell). I've delved into the writerly journals and correspondence of Sylvia Plath and May Sarton, and the poetry of Joy Harjo and Morgan Parker. I "moved" to Bolivia with William Powers and his family (Dispatches from the Sweet Life) and into the American desert with Ben Ehrenreich (Desert Notebooks) and into The House on Mango Street with Sandra Cisneros.

And that's just a sampling. Thanks to curbside library pickup, rereads from my own shelves, and the miracle of mail order, I've been able to keep my pandemic-shrunken world wide and varied, to keep my mind exercised. I hope you have also found books to keep you comforted or challenged--and if you write, to remind you why your work is important.